They May Not Endorse 'Em, But They Do Play 'Em
ALL THESE ARTICLES ARE ABOUT THE
MADE BEFORE GIBSON
Do Not Confuse These articles with The new Music Yo & Gibson Guitars.
Another project I got involved with while employed by Steinberger was
a photo collage of artists who played Steinbergers. This collage included
Eddie Van Halen, Joe Perry, Rick
Derringer, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Leslie West,
Vito Bratta, Warren Cuccurullo, Mike Rutherford, Alan Holdsworth, Buck Dharma,
Johnny Winters, Richie Scarlet, Steve Morse, Dave Larue, John Mayall, Paul
Stanley, Andy West, Geddy Lee, Sting, Bill Wyman, George Lynch, Brett Garsed,
Reeves Gabrels and many others. The pictures were great, and the ad copy read,
"They May not Endorse emí But They Do Play emí." If the ad had run,
Steinberger would have been sued out of existence in about 3 seconds.
"Rough layout of the ad that never ran"
My job at Steinberger provided a great opportunity for me to meet many of
the famous artists mentioned above and I made many valuable connections with a
lot of very famous and talented people thanks to Steinberger. But I feel the
story would be incomplete without mentioning the names of some of the dedicated
people who I had come into contact with during my association with Steinberger.
The first person who comes to mind is Andy Rossi
who currently today is one of the top execs at Fender.
Andy was the very creative
sales manager who, together with Kent Urbine,
came up with the idea of the "Factory Showroom". The retail store that I
owned at the time had the privilege of being the first and only one of these showrooms.
Factory Showroom" was much more than just a dealership. A
dealership carried the line but a "Factory Showroom" became involved in beta
testing new models, received special training on repairs and stocked a minimum
of 50 different instruments, all models, all colors and any new models and
designs. Also, a factory showroom dealt directly with Steinberger endorsees when
they needed instruments or service. This last part, of course, was extremely
good for business as it afforded the store major bragging rights because at any
given time there were rock stars and celebrities at the store for Steinberger
related business. The tour busses parked in our parking lot were simply great
for business. The program called for four or five showrooms nationally,
Northeast, West Coast, Midwest and Southeast. Sadly the program failed
everywhere else due to lack of other dealer's interest and commitment. My
opinion is that for the most part music store owners are a dull, bland,
uninteresting lot of nay-sayers, They wouldn't recognize innovation if it
blew up in their face.
Brian Moore was, according to my very recent interview with Ned
Steinberger, his right hand man, mold maker, painter and Chief Engineer.
According to Ned, "Brian Could do anything." Anyone who hasn't been living in a
black hole for the past five years knows about the Brian Moore Guitar. Together
with Pat Cummings, Steinbergerís last chief of operations before it closed it's
doors in Newburgh, and Kevin Kalagher, who owned a large printing company that
printed all of Steinbergers catalogs and brochures, they formed Brian Moore
Guitars. BMG does not make its own hardware or pickups, one of the needed
components for immortality in the guitar world. Companies that make their own
bridges, pickups, tuners, etc., are the ones that end up as the true classics.
Brian Moore Guitars are actually made by several different companies, Z&G
Tool in builds the bodies and Gulab Gidwani makes the necks. I personally have
had several very bad experiences with Mr. Gidwani. I am currently not selling
too many Brian Moore Guitars.
Henry Juszkiewicz, the marketing genius who
through modern branding, paying off endorsers & spending a fortune on
advertising, hype & promotion was able to bring back from the grave an ailing
guitar company with antiquated incorrect old designs and make them as American
as apple pie, Also the principal owner of Steinberger, Tobias, Gibson, Oberheim,
Music Yo, Garrison, Baldwin Piano, Epiphone, Dobro, Kramer, CMI, & other
corporate guitar companies is an ambitious man who when you meet him seems like
a bland quiet person.
fooled. Henry is an extremely intense person who has managed to turn many of the
people in the industry against him. Especially his ex employees, During my time in his employ, I was impressed
by his intensity & drive. In many ways he is stereotypical of a man in his
position. I believe Steinberger was sacrificed so that Gibson, his main cash
cow, could survive. Had the market not taken 5 steps backward and gone retro,
Henry would have been in position to go forward with Steinberger & Gibson
could have been the sacrificial lamb. A simple chess game, and a brilliant
business move. At this writing he is involved in 10 to 15 lawsuits with
other Guitar companies. I
am not going to comment at this time on the details.
It is my opinion that if he spent 20% of the
money that he wastes on lawsuits trying to protect 50 & 60 year old
tired lame designs which by all rights should be in the public domain
anyway. If he spent that cash on something sensible like research &
development. He could have some really groundbreaking products.
Jeff Babicz was the long time plant manager and all around chief cook and
bottle washer. In a small company everyone does a little of everything. From
everyone I have interviewed or spoken to, Jeff's name comes up over and over
again. I have gathered he
was an integral part of the equation that made the company work. Jeff Babicz &
Jeff Carrano. See Babicz Guitars
Debbie Orsland was the extremely capable office
manager and is the only one person that I know who is still working at
Steinberger. Although she is also wearing a Tobias hat, I think she is probably
sales manager, purchasing agent and head of operations.
Although a lot of people credit Ned for the headless neck design and the
graphite construction technique, actually Les Paul came up with the original
headless neck design and Geoff Gould of Modulus gets the credit for the graphite
construction technique. Ned Steinberger, however, did come up with some
absolutely incredible inventions.
The 12 string track-tuner: is my
personal favorite of all of Nedís creations. This amazing bridge finally solved
the age old 12 string tuning peg balance problem. It worked with one sliding
tuning peg that slide-clicked into 12 different positions so that the player
could switch between strings to tune them. This slick product took the NAMM
award for product of the year in 1989
The Trans-Trem tremolo allows a player to
instantly change the tuning of the whole guitar effectively up and down 2 steps.
Eddie Van Halen told me he loved it. He used it during the 5150 period
exclusively. He uses Steinberger's in the studio all the time. He gets no
royalty from Steinberger and to the best of my knowledge he never given any of
his 4 Steinberger graphite L Series guitars to any of the Hard Rock Cafe's like
he did with the pseudo Kramers and the Music Man models. I have recently been
informed that Peavey purchased a Trans-Trem for Eddie's Main Guitar. (In
2008 Gibson came out with a new trans tremolo which doesn't have the range of
the original one. The new model will not fit in the guitar like the original one
Pivot Plate: the rotating whirligig on the back of most Steinberger bass
guitars, allows the bassist to balance his instrument extremely effectively &
Leg-Rest: A simple but extremely effective device that finally made it
possible to use a small bodied guitar, or a Flying Vee, while in a comfortable
Double Balled Strings, makes changing your strings almost a pleasure. If
you've ever changed a string on a traditional guitar you have to love this
Calibrated Strings: Is a technology that Ned and Richard Cocco of Labella
Strings came up with. Les Paul may have invented the headless system but he
never got it marketed because he couldn't get it to work right without this
40 to 1 Gearless Tuners: Without a doubt the absolute best guitar tuners
ever made, pull is totally straight. Unlike the Sperzel, Schaller, there is absolutely no string winding. The tenacity of
the steel in the Calibrated Strings make these tuners a possibility. Nothing
else even comes close.
Transposing Tremolo: Perhaps the most innovative guitar related invention
of our time. This allows the player to effortlessly switch tunings instantly.
(Used by Eddie Van Halen on many of his guitars) If you are interested in seeing
a more detailed write-up on this product.
The Ned Steinberger Double Bass
At this writing, Ned is involved with his new company, NS
Designs & his new products, The NS Double Bass. Viola &
He is also working with John Bolin of
Bolin Guitars as
Ned was recently telling me all about this & it sounds very cool. Based
on Nedís history, I would say this is something to watch closely. This bass is a
standard 41.78 in. scale length, 5 string fretless with directional Piezo bridge
pickup system, magnetic pick-up and active on-board mixing and EQ. The
dimensions are 52 in. long and in. wide and in. thick (Forgive me Ned, but this
is the USA and we still don't use the metric system and I don't want to,
The construction of this upright bass is brilliantly designed so that the
neck body and peg head are curved to match the tapered arch (cone shape) of the
fingerboard. The entire back of the instrument is curved inward to follow the
curve of the front surface, forming a single continuous structure. The concave
shape of the back of the neck creates a broad pocket for the thumb. and keeps
the thickness of the neck under one inch. The fingerboard, nut and bridge are
all constructed of black phenolic. The self standing tripod stand made from
steel and aluminum can be locked into a rigid position or allowed to move with
the player. The magnetic system is a proprietary EMG model and the electronics
and active EQ circuitry has been developed by Henry Zajac and Ned Steinberger.
The tuning pegs are 20 to 1 fully encased worm gear tuners. The truss rod is
totally removable. One of the coolest things is the bipolar directional Piezo
pick-up system responds directly to either vertical vibration, for the sustained
pluck sound of a guitar, or lateral vibration, for dynamic bowing, and a
percussive plucked sound.
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Steinberger Guitars, Basses and Parts
In 1989, my retail store became the worlds first, last, and only
Steinberger factory outlet. We stocked about 75 Steinbergers, every make, model,
and color. We served as a separate custom shop, produced some prototypes, double
necks and some left-handed guitars that were sold through the existing
Steinberger dealer network. We were a beta test site for different woods and
electronics that Ned was experimenting with, and served as liaison between the
recording artists and the factory. We were responsible for a lot of custom
guitars that were made for Steinberger's artist roster. During those years
everyone who was anyone had a Steinberger in his arsenal. And I do mean